Modern Minoan Paganism: Walking with Ariadne's Tribe

Walk the sacred labyrinth with Ariadne, the Minotaur, the Great Mothers, Dionysus, and the rest of the Minoan pantheon. Modern Minoan Paganism is not a reconstructionist tradition, but a journey in relationship with Minoan deities in the contemporary world. Ariadne's thread reaches across the millennia to connect us with the divine. Will you follow where it leads?

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Calendar conundrums: harvest time in Modern Minoan Paganism

Over the past few days, my family and I have celebrated Lammas, a European harvest festival. But we don't include Lammas in the sacred calendar for Modern Minoan Paganism. Why not? First, there's the fact that the modern Neopagan eight-fold wheel of the year hadn't been invented yet back in the Bronze Age. But there's also the fact that in the Mediterranean, this isn't harvest time.

Many of us live in the northern temperate zone - the parts of North America and Eurasia that have four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, winter. Those seasons may be milder or more severe depending on the local climate, but they're still there.

The Mediterranean is different. Instead of four seasons, it really only has two: a hot, dry "dead time" in the summer and a mild, rainy winter. So field crops like grain and vegetables can't generally be grown during the summer; there's not enough rain and the heat is oppressive.

Instead, in places like Crete, where the ancient Minoans lived, the people wait for the rains to come in the autumn. The rain softens the soil, and the farmers plow and plant their crops. Those crops grow during the mild winter, helped along by more rain. Then they're harvested in the spring.

That's backwards from what a lot of us are used to. So people like me, who live in a four-season area where planting happens in the spring and harvest in the autumn, can feel a little off-kilter when trying to work with the Minoan sacred calendar.

What can we do about that? First, I like to acknowledge the way the agricultural cycle and the seasons work in the Mediterranean. This time of year, I think about how the people of Crete, even today, are moving through the late summer dry season (mostly without air conditioning, so it's bloody hot) and are looking forward to the rains that will begin in a few weeks. Isn't it a marvel that the seasons can be so different all over the world?

Then I make a conscious, considered choice to switch the Modern Minoan calendar to match the seasons where I live. This is a nature religion, after all. I choose to celebrate the harvest at the Autumn Equinox and planting at the Spring Equinox, because to do otherwise would keep me from relating to the world around me. People who live in, for example, New Zealand can leave the sacred calendar intact because their seasons happen to coincide with the Mediterranean agricultural cycle. Do whatever makes sense for the part of the world where you live.

The Minoans traveled and traded all over the Mediterranean. They may also have sailed past the Straits of Gibraltar and up the Atlantic coast, in which case they would have encountered different climates and seasons. I like to think that if any of them ever settled in foreign lands, they would simply have adapted their sacred calendar to match the local seasons.

So that's what I do. Planting and the New Year will come at Autumn Equinox in Crete, but not in the southeastern US where I live. So this autumn I give thanks to the Grain Mother for her gifts. I'm sure she understands.

In the name of the bee,

And of the butterfly,

And of the breeze, amen.

 

Image: Wheat field with poppy, public domain via Pixabay

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I'm an artist, writer, and lover of all things ancient and mysterious. The Minoans of Bronze Age Crete have been a passion of mine since a fateful art history class introduced me to the frescoes of Knossos back in high school. My first book was published in 2001; one of my most recent works is Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism. I've also created a Minoan Tarot deck and a Minoan coloring book. When I'm not busy drawing and writing, you can find me in the garden or giving living history demonstrations at local historic sites.

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